[Progress News] [Progress OpenEdge ABL] BI Tools + REST APIs: Not as Difficult as You May Think

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Joelle Andrews

SQL and REST APIs are the way we access data. Yet many business intelligence and analytics tools aren’t set up to allow easy querying from both. Progress DataDirect offers a simple solution to cross the divide.

SQL is one of the most common and traditional approaches to data access. Clients make SQL requests using ODBC or JDBC to a backing data store, and the data is either returned, updated, created or deleted. Analytics and BI tools like Tableau and Power BI use the data coming from these queries to populate the spreadsheets and dashboards that inform and help us accomplish our daily tasks.

And then along comes the API. Working with REST API data traditionally requires some coding to consume it using a SQL-based business intelligence tool. This means that for businesses to access data from REST API applications, they need to do one of these three things:

  1. Code a solution from scratch using Python or another modern-day language.
  2. Make use of a web connector SDK to code a solution for every reporting tool (because a connector made for Power BI, for example, won't function on other BI tools like Tableau).
  3. Avoid the problem entirely by sending everything to a data warehouse and allowing direct database access.

These options might be okay if we were dealing with a few REST API connections per year or didn’t need to worry about security and compliance. But data via API is now just as popular as direct SQL access and deserves to be fully addressed.

Coding from scratch is a resource-consuming option, as it takes a huge amount of time and budget since the connectors need regular maintenance and are code-intensive. Using an SDK won’t help if end users all prefer different BI tools. Doing nothing isn’t sustainable because eventually, if not now, data that is only available via a REST API will be considered mission-critical. Allowing direct database access can be a data privacy risk.

Where Does this Shift to REST API Data Sources Leave Users?​

As revolutionary as BI tools like Power BI and Tableau are, they can only do so much to satisfy all their users’ needs. Their native connectors integrate various data sources, but the market’s new data sources outnumber the connectors a thousand to one. New applications are popping up daily. Because it’s so hard to create connectors for all these new public and private REST APIs, Power BI, Tableau and other reporting tools don't reach their maximum capabilities.

If essential data falls through the cracks, organizations start flying blind. No one knows who gained access to what or what they used the data for. Some organizations resort to making important decisions with incomplete data, and some simply go with their gut instinct where there are data gaps.

However, there is an easy way around all this—a way to bridge SQL with REST API data sources and maintain your sanity while you’re at it. How, you ask? Using Progress DataDirect Autonomous REST Connector.

How Does Autonomous REST Connector Help Solve Connectivity Issues?​

Progress Autonomous REST Connector is a data connectivity solution that allows businesses to build enterprise-grade data connectors in a matter of minutes. It achieves this without coding, taking the heavy lifting off developers. And it not only works for Power BI and Tableau but for all other BI tools that your business or customers might be using.

Autonomous REST Connector allows organizations to immediately access any RESTful API and integrate the data across different SQL-based analytics tools in real-time. It is equipped with the capability to identify an API endpoint and create a codeless configuration file that allows programs to consume the data. You can customize the configuration to fit your security, performance or optimization needs.

It normalizes the semi-structured JSON response data into data you can query with standard SQL. The best thing? It doesn’t even require you to be familiar with the JSON response so that you can access that data. No coding, no hassle, no stress.

Experience Autonomous REST Connector​

It’s possible for data connectors to take over your organization so much that developers can’t focus their efforts on anything else. But in just minutes, Autonomous REST Connector can provide you with custom connectors for the REST APIs of your choice. That comes in handy when customers in this digital age expect to have data access regardless of the application they’re using.

Think of Autonomous REST Connector as the factory that allows you to rapidly build enterprise-grade connections for REST APIs to have connectivity to SQL-based tools. We created this product with the idea that enterprises and ISVs can leverage APIs to their advantage without sacrificing time or money. If you or your customers need seamless access to REST API data from SQL-based tools, contact us or start a trial of DataDirect Autonomous REST Connector.

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